[JURIST] Iraq released 500 detainees from Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive] Friday as part of an ongoing national reconciliation plan [JURIST report] first announced by new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki [BBC profile] earlier this month. Maliki promised that 2,500 prisoners held in US detention facilities and under Iraqi custody would be released if the detainees "are not Saddam Hussein loyalists or terrorists or anyone who has Iraqi blood on their hands." Friday's release follows the release of nearly 300 prisoners two weeks ago, and 600 prisoners [JURIST reports] prior to that. Lieutenant Colonel Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for the US detention facilities in Iraq, said that about 2,300 prisoners have been released since Maliki announced the plan on June 7.
People view Maliki's national reconciliation move as an attempt by the hardline Shiite prime minister to appease the Sunni minority, which is largely responsible for the insurgency against the Iraqi government. Maliki made releasing detainees who were detained mistakenly or without sufficient evidence a priority when he began his term [JURIST report] in May. AFP has more.